Thursday, 20 October 2011

Tories squeak home in Sompting

In the unusual Tuesday by-election that took place earlier in the week the Conservatives were relieved to hang on to the Cokeham ward in Adur DC (West Sussex). It was the first count we had managed to attend since starting Britain-Votes and it may just have been my inexperience but I don't think those involved with the campaigns thought the result would be quite as close as it was.

The by-election was taking place following the death of Conservative Councillor Norman Wright. He had won his seat comfortably in 2008 but it would seem the presence of a UKIP candidate in 2010 reduced the Tories' majority.

Although they had come third in 2010 Labour were considered to be the Conservatives main challengers having held a seat in the ward as recently as 2006. Still, they required a 10.7% swing to take the seat which seemed a tall order.

Due to the late confirmation that we were able to attend (3pm on the afternoon) we hadn't done anywhere near as much groundwork with those involved in this by-election as we would have liked to (basically nothing after we'd tried and failed to get in contact with the campaigns).

The novelty of two strangers turning up to the count drew odd looks rather than inquisitive conversation but we did manage to glean some information out of the Labour agent. Having come over to ask if Kay was the Green candidate (which indicated they hadn't actually met the Green candidate) she revealed they were hoping for, but not expecting, a win.

It turned out they were just six votes behind the Conservatives, who were visibly relieved with Nicholas Pigott's narrow victory. Labour's perennial candidate in this ward Barry Mear will have high hopes of claiming victory in next year's election, although the low turnout (21.4%) will have surely helped his cause in this by-election.

UKIP's share of the vote remained virtually unchanged from last May's but the Liberal Democrat's suffered an alarming collapse in their support. Having beating Labour to second place in 2010 the Lib Dems fell to last place, behind even the Green candidate who no-one had ever met.

Thing's really haven't been going well for them locally as this poor result comes just days after one of their two Councillors in Adur was booted off the Council for poor attendance. It seems likely that the by-election will be scheduled to coincide with next May's elections given that the Tories complained
endlessly about this one being called and the Liberal Democrats will surely have no interest in another humiliating defeat.

The Conservatives currently hold all but three seats in Adur with the next partial Council elections due to take place next May.

Cokeham (Adur)

By-Election Candidate


Vote %


Nicholas Pigott (E)




Barry Mear




David Bamber




Jennie Tindall




Cyril Cannings




* Due to a mix up with his nomination papers Mear appeared without a description on the 2010 ballot paper


Tom Harris

Later this afternoon Kay will be posting her more light-hearted take on the evenings events.


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